TAMPA — It was billed as a duel of two of the nation's top pitchers, and USF's Sara Nevins and Hofstra's Olivia Galati didn't disappoint Friday night, taking a 1-1 tie into the 11th inning before the Pride won 2-1 in Game 1 of an NCAA Super Region.
"Both teams, I thought, played flawless," said coach Ken Eriksen, whose Bulls (48-12) have another shot at Hofstra at 2:30 p.m. today, with a third and deciding game following if they win. They'll have to solve Galati, who won her 32nd straight decision, one short of an NCAA record, and allowed one hit in the final eight innings.
Hofstra (42-13) scored in the 11th when D.J. Slugh singled, advanced on an illegal pitch and a sacrifice bunt, then scored from third on a single by No. 9 hitter Michelle Lavagnino. Galati got USF's 3-4-5 hitters to pop up to end the game.
"I knew it was going to come down to one player, one situation, getting the one hit you have to have," Hofstra coach Bill Edwards said.
Nevins was called five times for illegal pitches — officials took issue with her delivery — and those calls factored in both Hofstra runs. Eriksen said his pitchers had not been called for an illegal pitch since the season opener.
"Our umpires in our country do such a phenomenal job all year long," he said. "I can't fault Sara at all for continuing to do what she's been told is good all year long. I'm still kind of confused."
USF, hosting a Super Region for the first time, drew a sellout crowd of 1,561, a USF Softball Stadium record. Today's winner advances to the College World Series in Oklahoma City.
"The nice part is you come out, you get hot, let it roll and the day's over," Eriksen said. "I've been with this team for seven, eight months now, and I know what they can do."
Hofstra scored in the first on Krista Thorn's RBI single after an illegal-pitch call negated an out. USF got its run in the third, when second baseman Alexis Nowell singled and pinch-runner Courtney Goff advanced on three consecutive bunts by Ashli Goff, Gina Kafalas and Jessica Mouse.